The June 2008 issue of Inc Magazine had an article, The Customer is the Company, about Threadless, a multi-million dollar tee-shirt company that has attracted venture capital and has ideas for expanding into other products. Threadless maintains an on-line community where users can submit their tee-shirt designs, rate others’ designs, and of course buy shirts. The people whose designs are chosen to be printed win prizes.
Collaborating with others is a fundamental principle of creativity. In this blog, you’ll find many references to this — just click on the tags “Brainstorming”, “Decision Making”, “Diversity”, and “Innovation”, for a sample.
Threadless is a great example of this, where the “customers end up playing a critical role across all its operations: idea generation, marketing, sales forecasting.”
This is also an example of Creativity as a Process, where Threadless’s process is maintaining the on-line community, and having the community members submit and choose the designs to be printed.